Two great reviews!

Two cool new book reviews for my romance novels! ♥

Marie Lavender- Multigenre Author

Awesome news! I just stumbled across two new reviews for my books…

HEIRESSES IN LOVE TRILOGY (boxed set)

https://books2read.com/u/4EMMPe

BP34

Hours of Reading Pleasure

April 13, 2019

Format: Kindle Edition

Three box set that includes Upon Your Return, Upon Your Honor, and Upon Your Love. Three heiresses and their love life. Hours of reading pleasure for your enjoyment. A little maritime adventure and a whole lot of love. I read an advance reader copy and voluntarily chose to review. Well written with likeable characters and engaging stories.

BLOOD INSTINCTS – book two of the Blood at First Sight Series

http://books2read.com/u/bppKAk

Keti

Fantastic! An incredible fantasy story!

April 22, 2019

Format: Kindle Edition

A fantastic story that you will love.
Wonderful and magic characters… that will surprise you with their ability and capability…
A story full of twists… a journey toward the research for who one…

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Filed under Authors, Book News, book reviews, Books, Event, Fiction, Historical, Historical Romance, Marie Lavender, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Readers, Reviews, Romance, Writing

Blog Tour Feature: Wicked Wager by Beverley Oakley

.•*´¨❥¸.•*´¨ NEW RELEASE¸.•*´¨❥¸.•*´¨

What if one kiss is not enough?

I am pleased to announce a cool book blog tour going on right now, presented by Beverley Oakley, an author I met during my journey! Congratulations on your new historical romance! :)

When a new book comes out, it is always an exciting time for authors!

Plus, here at the I Love Romance Blog, we love discovering romance novels!

Let’s hear a little about this great book…

Nice!

This is the blurb for Wicked Wager, Georgian Romance Series, Book 1:

Can innocence survive the machinations of a malevolent society beauty and a charismatic rake?

Two weeks before her nuptials to her cold, harsh cousin, virtuous Celeste Rosington finds herself in the arms of notorious libertine, Lord Peregrine.

The unexpected encounter is, at first, shocking, but as Peregrine’s charm weaves its magic, becomes a welcome distraction from Celeste’s troubles. Isn’t she already the subject of whispers due to her involvement in the mysterious disappearance of a wealthy plantation magnate? It was a role orchestrated by her demanding husband-to-be in which Celeste had failed spectacularly.

Nevertheless, Celeste has no intention of sacrificing all of her scruples for a man she knows is only toying with her. One kiss from handsome, charismatic Viscount Peregrine will surely be enough to give her the strength to fulfil her marital obligations?

But what if one kiss is not enough?

With her reputation in the balance, Celeste must navigate the treacherous waters of envy, intrigue and deadly secrets, unaware she’s the unwitting pawn in a wicked wager between a ruthless society beauty and delicious, dissolute Lord Peregrine.

Could Peregrine really be a party to such perfidious plans? Will his reckless charm be the final undoing of a young woman once respected for her virtue and piety?

Or will Peregrine discover that true love is more powerful than greed and ambition in time to save Celeste from the terrible fate that otherwise awaits her?

Beverley is giving us a peek at her historical romance, Wicked Wager, today.

Great cover!

 

Book Info:

Author: Beverley Oakley

Series: Georgian Romance #1

Genre: Romance, Historical, Georgian

Heat Level: Sensual

Release Date: April 7, 2019

Here is an excerpt.

The last of the applause drifted away and for a few seconds the shrill cries of the orange sellers held sway. Rising from his ironic bow for the benefit of his companion, Lord Peregrine held back the red velvet curtain that had afforded them privacy so that Xenia could pass through and join the throng of theatergoers descending the sweeping staircase.

He saw that she had fallen into conversation with a club-footed general whose more than interested eye swept appraisingly over Xenia’s abundant assets, and once again Perry felt again the familiar heating of his loins that only Xenia could inspire with a mere incendiary glance.

The contours of her sack-back gown, adorned with a row of bows the length of her stomacher, recalled the more lascivious of those thoughts he’d entertained for the past decade: what it would be like to undress her, layer by layer by layer. He could only imagine how many layers there might be, but the prize would be worth the exquisite torture of restraint. He’d not revealed quite how much her proposition tonight had taken him by surprise, and the fact he’d agreed fueled him with an odd combination of conflicting sensations: raging lust tempered by the knowledge that he’d just sunk to depths of moral depravity that might make even his uncle squirm in his grave: seduce an innocent on the eve of her nuptials.

Except that Xenia maintained the young woman’s ingenuousness was a ploy. Still, Miss Rosington retained her standing in society as a paragon of virtue. What right had he to assume otherwise, just because it was convenient?

He was diverted by a squeal to his left. Xenia was moving ahead, caught up by the crowd, her head bent to absorb the admiration of her club-footed general. Peregrine meanwhile found himself unable to continue, due to the fact the young woman in front of him had snagged her skirts on what appeared to be a nail or splinter protruding from one of the supporting beams. No one could move until she’d freed herself, and as Peregrine was directly behind her it was incumbent upon him to act the gentlemen and so enable the rest of the pulsing crowd to forge ahead.

“Please be careful, sir, it’ll tear and it’s the first time I’ve worn it,” the young woman warned as he took a handful of stiff silk in one hand. “It’s my finest.” She twisted her head round to address him.

As her lips parted, revealing a set of near perfect small white teeth, and her worried blue eyes bored into his, Peregrine felt a jolt of something unidentifiable plummet like a stone to the pit of his stomach. No, further than that, for without a doubt his groin was reacting with something akin to roiling hunger. And, surprisingly, with an intensity that exceeded the dull throb of ten years of wanting Xenia like a frustrated schoolboy.

Close to, Miss Rosington was exquisite, her pale white and rose-blushed skin far more lustrous than when seen from a distance through opera glasses. Her powdered coiffure, dressed to fashionable heights, accentuated high, rounded cheekbones; and with growing excitement he followed the sweep of her graceful neck to a bosom that was rising and falling with surely greater rapidity than fear of what peril her gown might face. He liked to think that was so, as her candid look met his and the connection between them seemed like the sharp tug of some inner cord, forcing him forward, his hand brushing hers, nestled beneath a froth of silken furbelows, as they both reached for the undamaged silk petticoat, now released.

“No harm done,” he murmured as she drew herself up, her companion, the black-eyed viscount to whom she was affianced, returning to claim her, drawing her away with the barest of thanks.

All over in a matter of seconds, and at what cost? For while silk skirts and dignity had escaped with minimal damage, Peregrine was the first to concede, as he watched her graceful back with pounding heart and aching groin, that a great deal of harm had indeed been done.

 ~♥~♥~♥~♥~♥~

Purchase Link:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/49WoqW

PRAISE FOR WICKED WAGER

This is intriguing, suspenseful, unpredictable and entertaining. After Perry accepts a wager from his lady friend to expose the woman who destroyed his sister’s life, he’s not so certain she is guilty of anything. A game of cat and mouse begins, but no one who is the cat and who is the mouse, because there are too many players in the game. It’s a storyline that captures your attention immediately, and keeps it until the very end. duelalias (Amazon)

 Wow!!! This took a woman scorned to the highest degree. This tangled web of deceit kept me glued to the pages in anticipation and shock as this couple is manipulated on every side. I like both characters and think they make a great couple. The mystery behind the wager is much bigger though and was another wow/emotional moment for me. Perry has met his match with this stubborn and feisty Celeste. – ANN (Amazon)

The attraction between Celeste and Perry is instantaneous and mutual. Celeste sees it as her only chance to ever experience love before the long years she faces in a loveless💔 marriage. There is much, much more story to this fascinating book! Space Cowgirl (Amazon)

Great story! I very much enjoyed reading this book. I loved the characters and the lovely, twisty plot really kept my attention all the way through the book. I can definitely recommend it. – MERRIE (Amazon)

OMG! Love all the tension. ♥♥♥

Sounds like quite a tale!😉

Beverley is giving away a signed print copy of The Duchess and the Highwayman during the tour. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember, there is a chance to enter everyday so be sure to follow the Blog Tour. You may find the tour schedule and locations here.

Thank you for telling us about your new historical romance, Beverley! I know I can’t wait to read this intriguing novel! 🙂

Readers, don’t forget to grab a copy of this awesome book, or add it to your Goodreads list!

Wicked Wager looks great! ♥ We’ll be sure to check it out! Don’t miss the giveaway!

Author Bio

Beverley Oakley is an Australian author who grew up in the African mountain kingdom of Lesotho, married a Norwegian bush pilot she met in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, and started writing historical romances to amuse herself in the 12 countries she’s lived as a ‘trailing spouse’ (in between working as an airborne geophysical survey operator, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and writing for her former newspaper).

Her Scandalous Miss Brightwell Series was nominated Best Historical Romance by the Australian Romance Readers Association. She is also the author of the popular Daughters of Sin Series, a Regency-era ‘Dynasty-style’ family saga laced with intrigue and espionage.

Under her real name Beverley Eikli, she writes Africa-set romantic suspense, and psychological historical romances. The Reluctant Bride won Choc-Lit’s Search for an Australian Star competition, and her Regency tale of redemption, The Maid of Milan, was shortlisted in the Top Ten Reads of 2014 at the UK Festival of Romance.

Beverley lives north of Melbourne (overlooking a fabulous Gothic lunatic asylum) with the same gorgeous Norwegian husband, two daughters and a rambunctious Rhodesian Ridgeback.

You can read more at beverleyoakley.com

Author Links

Website:  https://beverleyoakley.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBeverleyOakley/

https://www.facebook.com/beverley.eikli/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/BeverleyOakley

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Beverley-Oakley/e/B01HOFCS8K/

https://www.amazon.com/Beverley-Eikli/e/B0034Q44E0

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5989577.Beverley_Oakley

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/beverley-oakley

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com.au/beverleyeikli/

 

Thank you for telling us about your great book tour! I know readers can’t wait to get ahold of this Georgian romance!

Thanks again to Beverley and her blog tour sponsor!

We hope to see you back on ILRB sometime. 

Happy reading, everyone!  ♥♥♥ Have a great weekend! 😀

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New Release Feature: Redeemed by author Maggie Blackbird

•..•Redeemed by Maggie Blackbird•..•

There’s nothing he isn’t willing to do to win back his son–and Bridget…

I am pleased to announce a great book release by Maggie, a talented author I met during my journey! Her new erotic multicultural romance novel, Redeemed, book two of the The Matawapit Family Series, officially released a few days ago!

Yay! That’s awesome! :) Congrats on your new release!

When a new book comes out, it’s always an exciting time for an author!

Maggie is giving us a look at her steamy multicultural romance, Redeemed, today.

Great cover!

This is the blurb for Redeemed:

A single woman battles to keep her foster child from his newly-paroled father—a dangerous man she used to love.

Bridget Matawapit is an Indigenous activist, daughter of a Catholic deacon, and foster mother to Kyle, the son of an Ojibway father—the ex-fiancé she kicked to the curb after he chose alcohol over her love. With Adam out on parole and back in Thunder Bay, she is determined to stop him from obtaining custody of Kyle.

Adam Guimond is a recovering alcoholic and ex-gang banger newly-paroled. Through counseling, reconnecting with his Ojibway culture and twelve-step meetings while in prison, Adam now understands he’s worthy of the love that frightened him enough to pick up the bottle he’d previously corked. He can’t escape the damage he caused so many others, but he longs to rise like a true warrior in the pursuit of forgiveness and a second chance. There’s nothing he isn’t willing to do to win back his son–and Bridget.

When an old cell mate’s daughter dies under mysterious circumstances in foster care, Adam begs Bridget to help him uncover the truth. Bound to the plight of the Indigenous children in care, Bridget agrees. But putting herself in contact with Adam threatens to resurrect her long-buried feelings for him, and even worse, she risks losing care of Kyle, by falling for a man who might destroy her faith in love completely this time.

Here is an excerpt to entice you with!

Adam took another drag. “I’m talking now, ain’t I?”

“True.” The heat in his gaze seemed to touch Bridget’s cheek. She rubbed the purse strap.

“I don’t got nothing to hide. ’Kay?”

“You were hiding something last time?”

“Nope. But I know my not speaking pissed you off.”

“There’s no reason to bring up the past. I told you I’d help and that’s what I’m doing.”

“Yeah, you agreed to help…” His gaze roamed around her face.

Bridget recoiled and glanced away.

“Y’know, kwe, we’re doing a lot of dancing.”

“Dancing?”

“Lookit me.”

She forced herself to raised her head.

His dark eyes smoldered. He leaned forward. His hand stretched out, and he ran his strong fingers along her braid.

Sensuous heat and angry lightning erupted under Bridget’s skin. “Don’t you dare.” The words hissed from her mouth.

“What’re you afraid of, kwe?”

“Quit calling me that.” The order snapped from deep inside Bridget’s constricting chest. “You have no right calling me by that name. Not after what you did.” She stood and yanked her purse off the bench.

He tilted his head up, his jawline tightening. “I know what I did, kwe. You remind me all the time.”

“I do no such thing.” How dare Adam turn this around as her fault.

“Yeah, you do. It’s in your eyes. They hang me like a noose. It’s in your lips. They condemn me like a villain. It’s in your voice. You slap me with your tone.”

“What’d you expect after what you did?” she huffed out. “You were charged with aggravated assault. The judge had every right to throw the book at you.”

“I know what I did, kwe.” Adam’s voice remained flat. “I live with it every day. I don’t take the easy way out and blame it on the booze.”

“You were skidding around for months. I can only imagine what else you did.” And no, she wasn’t jealous.

“I drank. I drank some more. I did something really bad to another human being. Got arrested. Sat in remand until my trial. I won’t say he deserved it. I won’t say anything. I did it. I went to prison for it.”

“And did you only drink?” She silently cuffed her rear end for continuing to poke at the damned same question.

Adam’s thick lips tugged at the corner. “If you mean was I out screwing around? Nope. You’re the only woman for me, kwe.”

Delight exploded through Bridget’s veins. Then she clamped a lock on her heart. Only a moron bought his answer. He’d been drunk for four months in Winnipeg. He must have picked up some woman in a bar.

“I was hurting bad.” His voice sagged. “You think I was happy when you told me to fuck off? You killed me, woman.”

The sharp tone of his last statement was pure insult, an affront to the feminine strength that had dragged Bridget up from the depths of Hell where Adam had stuck her. “If you want to continue speaking, tell Dirty Harry to leave. I only deal with Mr. Darcy.”

Adam stood and set his enormous hands on his hips. “Mr. Who—? Look, I’ll tell Dirty Harry to take a hike if you call off Sarah Conner. I’m not the Terminator sent back in time to harm you.”

At his full height, Adam towered over Bridget, made her five-nine stance shrink to a doll. He’d reduced her to a doll, helpless in the possession of his hands, made to dance, talk, or walk under his orders.

Heat built in her lungs. She was too independent to draw back and scuttle away. No man provoked fear in her. The worst part was, she didn’t fear Adam’s physical presence, she feared the thick, steamy aroma of testosterone he forever used to challenge her, weaken her, seduce her. The masculine aroma dripped from the pits of his arms, his thick chest, and the bulge of his biceps.

“Out of my thirty-eight years, I fucked up thirty-seven of ’em. I ain’t fucking up again.”

“Thirty-seven?” His scent kept assaulting Bridget’s knees, swirling around her, until she wobbled.

“Yeah. Thirty-seven. I can’t count the year the three of us were a family. Me. You. Kyle.”

Bridget’s resolve continued to crumble. Adam kept dusting her femininity with his husky declarations, fierce scent, and sensual stare.

She pivoted on her heel and bolted for the truck. She’d dump him off at the halfway house and go home. If he wanted to tease and torment her during their drive, he could, but she’d don her mask of hate-fueled resentment created by him.

She pushed the button on the keys, and the locked doors opened.

Purchase Links:

Publisher link:  https://www.extasybooks.com/product/product/?series_id=1534&product_id=6400

Publisher: EXtasy Books

Nice tension! Gotta love this sneak peek. ♥♥♥

Thank you for telling us about your new book! It sounds fabulous! 🙂

Readers, don’t forget to pick up a copy of this intriguing read! Or add it to your Goodreads bookshelf!

Author Bio

An Ojibway from Northwestern Ontario, Maggie resides in the country with her husband and their fur babies, two beautiful Alaskan Malamutes.  When she’s not writing, she can be found pulling weeds in the flower beds, mowing the huge lawn, walking the Mals deep in the bush, teeing up a ball at the golf course, fishing in the boat for walleye, or sitting on the deck at her sister’s house, making more wonderful memories with the people she loves most.

Author Links

Website:  https://maggieblackbird.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/maggieblackbirdauthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/BlackbirdMaggie/

Amazon author page:  https://www.amazon.com/Maggie-Blackbird/e/B07KQP1FFG

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18176196.Maggie_Blackbird

LinkedIn:  https://bit.ly/2Ut8kbY

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/profile/maggie-blackbird

Publisher:  https://www.extasybooks.com/maggie-blackbird/

 

Thanks again, Maggie! We hope to see you back on ILRB sometime. 

Happy reading, everyone!🙂

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Big Myths That Should Be Dispelled About Romance Novels: a romance blogger post by multi-genre author Marie Lavender

Big Myths That Should Be Dispelled About Romance Novels

 

If you’re a fan of romance, then you’ve probably heard an insult or two regarding your favorite genre. And for those who don’t often gravitate towards romance for various reasons, now is the time to listen up and take this into consideration. You might be wrong about your assumptions! 😉 So, read on and learn more here…

I’ll list some myths that I’ve heard and read before.

  1. “It’s all smut.”

    freestocks.org, Unsplash

    Uggh…this word can annoy an avid romance reader. Some might think this myth is outdated, but there are people who still believe romance novels are smut, or trashy reads.

Bodice rippers went out of style by the mid-80s. The genre, as well as authors and readers, have evolved considerably. Erotica is a different subject matter entirely. Plus, bodice rippers promote rape culture, and most romance novels nowadays don’t even touch on that topic in a romantic relationship. With good reason, of course. Both sexual partners should be willing.

‘Mommy porn’ is also a derogative term which is used by certain parties in reference to romance books. Come on, not every romance author writes Fifty Shades-esque material, and readers are certainly not just mothers. Some are single, professional women. Romance readers are intelligent, capable people just as they are, and they’re not reading ‘smut’ or even ‘fluff’. It takes a lot of effort and smarts to digest a full romance novel (historical romance is heavy on time period description) – or in the case of fantasy and sci-fi romance, lots of world-building – in one sitting, and keep coming back for more.

Yuri Efremov, Unsplash

And no, we don’t just skip to the good parts! 🙄

  1. “Gross! I’m a guy. Men don’t read or write romance.”

Geez…get with the times! Men like to read romance too. ♥ For God’s sake, my reviewer for this blog is a guy. He adores reading romance books! And yes, he’s also a romance writer. I’ve also met a handful of other male authors who sometimes write in the romance genre.

There’s nothing wrong at all with dudes getting into romance reads, as writers or readers. More power to them! 😀

  1. “These books are so simple. 1+1 = 2, right? It’s not that difficult to understand.”

Actually, romance stories are complicated. It takes a hell of a lot more than just throwing two unique people next to each other, and then expecting fireworks. Life is full of ups and downs, a roller coaster journey, so to speak. Why wouldn’t a romance read have the same drama and tension?

Created by bearfotos- freepik.com

Authenticity is everything. Readers won’t care about characters or a story which isn’t relatable, or read something that couldn’t feasibly occur in reality. Even if the tale has fantastical elements, we have to believe in what’s happening, and see the reason why these characters are compatible.

Carly Rae Hobbins, Unsplash

  1. “Romance books are standard, or boring! Not for me…I need something that holds my attention.”

Really? With the constant evolution of multiple themes and sub-genres of romance, we’re not likely to run out of new ideas, nor are readers liable to call it quits any time soon. It’s one of the most popular book categories for a reason! 🙂

If you like shapeshifters, there’s always paranormal romance. Who doesn’t like vampires, werewolves or witches?

Favor a good spy tale or mystery/thriller? Try romantic suspense or a romantic thriller for some heart-pounding action.

Do you crave stories that are…a tad darker? There’s a type called dark romance, and even unique themes such as mafia romance or MC (biker) romances are available.

Prefer adventure tales? Maybe fantasy romance or romantic adventure is more your style.

You could be a science fiction fan, but might be willing to try something with a romantic storyline. As you know, many of the most popular sci-fi films usually have a romance angle to appeal to audiences. Why not go for science fiction romance, dystopian romance or even a good time travel tale?

 

Maybe you like stories about war veterans. Well, we have military romance

In other words, this genre has sooooo many options! ♥

  1. “I don’t believe in love at first sight. I can’t get into romance novels.”

Even as someone who has read tons of romance novels in some capacity since the age of thirteen, I can’t say I go for love at first sight either. However, I do believe that two people can connect right away. Lust also happens pretty fast too, but that’s beside the point. With these two facts, I know it still takes time to build a good relationship. I’ve read plenty of novels that don’t fall into the trap of the love at first sight ideal. I think it’s why the ‘Happy for Now’ ending works so well; most novelists get that this is more realistic on some level. I think that a lot of writers these days are doing their best to show that it’s not really love at first sight – rather it’s more about chemistry and an instant connection evolving quickly into something substantial. And this isn’t unheard of in real life.

But we don’t have 1,000 pages to explain the whole courtship/dating period; therefore it falls on the writer to try to make it a believable story in a short amount of time.

As a writer of romance as well, with twenty-four published books and 125+ works-in-progress, I usually do my best to avoid the idea of immediate love. Chemistry is easy, though.

Created by yanalya – freepik.com

It’s everything else that complicates the story. Even in my shorter romantic fiction, I try to explain that enough time – even though I don’t always go into the normal life details – has passed for these two people to actually develop feelings.

With The Missing Piece, a story that was part of a holiday romance anthology and was then made into a single ebook (new adult romance), I was careful to simply show the stirrings of romantic interest in such a short time.

For me, I see insta-love as a notion that often works well for supernatural creatures in fiction, simply because their primal, possessive instincts are winning out over logic. This can merge into affection rather quickly because all of their senses are more heightened than usual. Everything is so vivid that it must be love.

  1. “Romance novels are too sexy. I can’t handle all that heat.”

So steam isn’t for you. We totally respect your preferences! If you find that most romance reads are rife with heated or even graphic content, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Try inspirational romance. Have you seen Amish romance in bookstores? Yeah, that’s one type, among so many others.

But let’s say you’re open to looking outside spiritual reads. Also available on the market are clean romance and sweet romance. Plus, cozy mysteries typically lack sexual content, and amid all the other events in the books, there’s sometimes a romance angle.

In any case, the authors of these clean reads subscribe to the notion of a sweet romance, or at least closed door romance. We’re all adults here, right? But at least if sexual content bothers you in any fashion, you can rest assured that with these types of books, it usually won’t go beyond kissing. And even if it does, what happens is implied and never vividly described. Cut to the next scene!

Anyway, if you believe you can’t read romance because it’s just too hot for your taste, that no longer has to be the case.

  1. “Please…romance novels aren’t even real fiction!”

Hmm…ouch. 😥 Still, this myth is just wrong.

Let’s look at the basic formula for fiction.

The character is introduced. There is some action happening, a type of conflict. Something prevents him from getting what he really wants (usually the antagonist, which can be a person, place, thing, or even a concept). By the end of the story, this character must change in some capacity, internally or externally. The tale reaches its conclusion, however satisfying – or unsatisfying – it may be for readers.

These are the principles of fiction, of course. And you have interactions with secondary characters, dialogue and tension that help shape the story and your idea of who this person is. There’s also the climax of the tale, that pivotal movement when things get really tense for the character – the reader too – and he or she is close to losing everything. But I digress.

Every romance meets the requirements of fiction as well. It’s a lot more than two people being brought together like magnets. Chemistry is just a small part of it. The question becomes…how do we realistically connect these individuals? They have to fit somehow.

Created by yanalya – freepik.com

Numerous elements go into making that happen. There’s a specific plot, as well as subplots. The character must want something, have a goal in mind. The story isn’t always just about romance, but also the way characters come to believe new truths about themselves. They’re not only capable of love. Maybe the main character wants a promotion. But to do that, she’ll have to step outside her comfort zone to impress her boss. In any case, an HEA (Happily Ever After) or HFN (Happy for Now) is only possible if the character reaches the proper mindset to have a real romantic relationship. Without that, it’s just attraction – then it becomes erotica alone, which is something else altogether.

For example, being with an emotionally unavailable person is like hitting your head against the wall. In the end, it’s just pointless. For this type of relationship to qualify as a real romance, the characters must change – events might happen in their lives to help adjust their worldview – and they can reach a certain level of happiness. But it’s going to be a hard journey to get there. Romance stories aren’t all hearts, flowers, and butterflies.

Frank McKenna, Unsplash

True fiction is housed in every romance tale. The character still goes through a range of emotions to achieve what he/she wants. As aforementioned, often there is an antagonist preventing the couple from being together, whether it’s a person, a misconceived notion, or another external force that keeps them apart.

Sometimes it’s more than one antagonist. It’s never easy right away. Eventually, the characters must find a way around the barrier. Every relationship in real life takes effort, and these stories are no different.

Oh, wait!

Pixabay, pexels.com

The character wanted something, had a goal in mind. To reach that aspiration, he took action, and then the events that occurred reshaped his way of thinking. But at least he found what he was looking for. And he changed on some level, right? Yep…sounds like fiction to me! 😉

  1. “These books are useless drivel, and they create unrealistic expectations for people.”

To me, that sounds like it’s coming from someone who is afraid of the power of genuine emotion. But, let’s explore the aforesaid theory.

Relationships are hard work, and those in romance novels take just as much effort. If a writer is doing his or her job correctly, this will come out on the page.

Unrealistic? Hmm…if anything, I think the romance reader will see reality for what it is. No, finding happiness is never easy, but it’s worth the journey.

To illustrate this point, I’ll reference the trope often seen in historical romances…Marrying for Convenience versus Marrying for Love.

The truth is that even modern readers understand the benefits of a marriage of convenience. With financial and social stability, it’s a match that makes sense. But more often than not, we’ll root for the opposite outcome.

Why? Are we silly dreamers?

Not at all. It’s just that deep down, we all want to be happy. This is in our nature as human beings. We’re conditioned to know that events should play out a certain way – getting married and having kids is usually expected – but our instincts tell us there’s more to the story. Of course, those eventualities don’t work for every person. Still, why wouldn’t we want happiness for the characters we’ve come to care about?

Inna Lesyk, pexels.com

So, is it unrealistic to crave love? I don’t think so. At least in my opinion, romance novels have the power to teach us what we want in life. And who couldn’t use a little more self-awareness? I know I’d rather be in a relationship that works well, which helps me evolve as a person, rather than one that might look okay on paper, yet will only serve to hurt me in the long run.

Plenty of people are unhappy because they made the wrong choices. Maybe they feel trapped, but in the end, they have to figure a way out on their own. Some will settle, others won’t. That’s the thing about life, though. If you make a mistake, the best you can do is try to repair it. And if that’s not possible, you get creative and find a new route to achieve your goal.

Being logical is one way of thinking. Listening to your heart, really opening yourself up to what will make you happy? That takes courage.

I believe romance novels can teach us a lot about ourselves, and help us to understand the motivations of other people too.

Is this realistic? Probably not. But it can prevent someone from making a rash decision, to use their heart and instincts to discover what they want, and determine the best solution for them. How admirable, right? Outsiders can judge all they want, and it won’t matter as long as that person is satisfied with what they’ve chosen.

At any rate, romance novels are lot more complex than they may seem at first glance. Reading these books can offer many benefits – numerous insights and a source of entertainment, just to name a couple! If you’re interested in learning more, you can view a full list of sub-genres and romance tropes below.

https://marielavender.blogspot.com/2016/03/understanding-romance-genre-by-marie-lavender-plus-giveaway.html

https://www.mindyklasky.com/index.php/for-writers/romance-tropes/

I hope I’ve reaffirmed some aspects for loyal fans, and offered advice worth considering for people who are new to the romance genre. If you know of anyone who still believes these myths are valid, please refer them to this article. 😉

Have a lovely rest of your week, readers! 🙂

Host Blogger Bio

Multi-genre author of Victorian romance, UPON YOUR RETURN, and 23 other books. Reached the Top 10 Authors list on AuthorsDB.com for the last 4 years. Featured interview in the January 2018 issue of Womelle Magazine. The Heiresses in Love Trilogy made the TOP 10 on the Anthology category on the 2018 P&E Readers’ Poll, and BLOOD INSTINCTS reached TOP 10 status in the Romance category. The Heiresses in Love Trilogy and DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART both reached the semi-finalist round in the 2018 AuthorsDB Book Cover Contest. Voted TOP BLOGGER for 2018 on the Romance Lives Forever Blog. TOP 20 Authors of 2018 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog. DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART was nominated and made it past the first round in the 2018 Author Academy Awards. UPON YOUR LOVE and THE MISSING PIECE placed in the TOP 10 on the 2017 P&E Readers’ Poll. DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART was nominated for the 2017 Reader’s Choice Awards. The I Love Romance Blog became a finalist in StartDating DK’s Romance Blog Awards of 2017. ILRB landed on Feedspot’s 2017 TOP 100 Novel Blogs and TOP 100 Romance Blogs. DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART placed in the TOP 10 Books of 2017 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog. TOP 20 Authors of 2017 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog. Mystery Blogger Award for 2017. A to Z Blog Challenge Survivor in 2016. March 2016 Empress of the Universe title – winner of the “Broken Heart” themed contest and the “I Love You” themed contest on Poetry Universe. SECOND CHANCE HEART and A LITTLE MAGICK placed in the TOP 10 on the 2015 P&E Readers’ Poll. Nominated in the TRR Readers’ Choice Awards for Winter 2015. Poetry winner of the 2015 PnPAuthors Contest. The Versatile Blogger Award for 2015. Honorable Mention in the 2014 BTS Red Carpet Book Awards. Finalist and Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial’s Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader’s Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013, 2014 and 2016. 2013 and 2014 Amazon Bestseller Ranking for UPON YOUR RETURN. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.

Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and two cats. She has been writing for a little over twenty-five years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 24 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, dramatic fiction, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. She writes adult fiction, as well as occasional stories for children, and has recently started some young adult fiction. She has also contributed to several anthologies. Her current published series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Eternal Hearts Series, The Magick Series, The Code of Endhivar Series and The Blood at First Sight Series.

Links:

Official Website: http://marielavender.com/

Blogs: https://iloveromanceblog.wordpress.com/
http://marielavender.blogspot.com/

http://marielavenderbooks.blogspot.com/
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/marie.lavender.58
https://www.facebook.com/MarieAnnLavender
https://twitter.com/marielavender1
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/marie-lavender/27/187/10a

https://www.instagram.com/marielavender1/

Amazon author page: https://amzn.to/2SMRcRD
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6938764.Marie_Lavender
http://authorsdb.com/authors-directory/1578-marie-lavender

http://marielavender1.allauthor.com/

http://www.pw.org/content/marie_lavender
http://manicreaders.com/marielavender/

Publisher: http://www.solsticeempire.com/products.aspx?categoryid=262

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJu8HjRVYCFOqcIoX6ZxdqQ/videos

Sign up for Marie’s Newsletter: http://bit.ly/1g3wO13

Follow her on BookBub for new release updates: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/marie-lavender

 

Happy reading, everyone! 🙂

Pixabay, Pexels.com

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Filed under Action & Adventure, Authors, Blogging, Book News, Book Release, Books, characters, Contemporary, dark romance, Event, Faith, Fantasy, Fiction, Guest Writer, Historical Romance, Hope, inspirational romance, Love, MC and biker romance, Message, Military Romance, Mystery, New Adult, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Readers, Relationships, Romance, romantic ideas, Romantic Suspense, Stories, sweet romance, Thriller/Suspense, Writers

Five Ideal Settings for a Marriage Proposal: a guest post by Sarah Jacobs

Five Ideal Settings for a Marriage Proposal

 

So, you’ve FINALLY found the girl of your dreams. She is just perfect! You even finish each other’s sentences.

Ani Kolleshi, Unsplash

But well, marriage, as anyone would know, is not walk in the park. It is more like a battlefield, if you ask any of those veteran married people. But before I scare you off silly, let it be known that all married couples would agree that marriage is an experience like no other. Be it good or bad, it is something that changes and shapes a person, may it be for better or for worse.

I don’t mean to discourage anyone who wants to tie the knot, but marriage is a decision that should not be taken lightly, and emotionally. Marriage would mean having someone in your life. That person will share not only a few hours of your day with you. She will be there at your every moment. You will share not only the good moments, but also all the awkward, angry, sad, and even the most boring moments with her.

Created by Freepik

So before we dive into the engagement preparations and the wedding itself, it would be good to ask the following questions first, just to take a gauge on whether you are ready or not for marriage:

Is your life in order? I am not talking about having your life insurance and your will up and ready should anything happen. It is not even becoming one of those dashing billionaires that she might love reading about in paperbacks. This question is a simple evaluation of being prepared enough to take care of not only yourself in your life.

Are you committed? Sure, marriage sounds good right after the ceremony and the honeymoon. But once the bliss is dissipating, and everyday life becomes the norm, can you really, honestly accept your fate? If you still feel like you need more single time for yourself, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. There is no need to push for something that you are not yet ready for.

Have you stopped asking if she is THE ONE? Okay, it might sound counterproductive. But being able to stop asking that question and still feel at peace and contented with life even after a major fight with her (which, BTW, from your point of view, was not your fault), is one way of knowing that indeed you are with the right one. When you no longer see her as a potential soulmate, and you come to that point where she is just someone you cannot picture a future without, even during those ordinary, boring everyday moments (which are a lot) of your future, then I guess, we are off to preparing for the BIG QUESTION.

Gift Habeshaw, Unsplash

Gift Habeshaw, Unsplash

You have scoured the net, consulted all your friends, family, and even that random Uber driver on how you are going to pop the question. You have endless bookmarks, proposal forums, group chats, but still you feel like the perfect moment is not quite ready yet. Well, most of the time, you gotta start somewhere first. To ask the question, you need to answer first the WHERE. Where will that iconic, one of a kind, unforgettable, story-time-with-the-grandkids type of proposal take place? If you still don’t have the answer to that, don’t fret. I got you covered.

THE BEACH

Indeed, the beach is one of those places on earth where romance seems to bloom. From those young loves tentatively testing the waters, to those beautiful couples who have been together for ages, love is always a high tide on the beach. It could be because of the sun, the sand, the waves, the sunset, or sunrise. If you and your girl are beach lovers, then this place holds a special place in your heart and in your relationship.

Nathan Dumlao, Unsplash

Frank McKenna, Unsplash

SECRET HIDEOUT

This could be anywhere that you both consider special to your relationship. It can be a common place, like at your home, or it could be somewhere exotic, like your first holiday trip together. Wherever it may be, this place is where your most memorable moments are. It could be where you first met, or where you first said ‘i love you’.

Clarisse Meyer, Unsplash

FAMOUS LANDMARK 

If you have a dramatic proposal in mind, then a famous place should fit the bill. You don’t need to break the bank to visit the Eiffel Tower, but if you’ve got the budget, and if she digs that, then go for it.

Andre Furtado, pexels.com

But there are a lot of sweeping views and majestic landscapes near your place that will surely sweep her off her feet.

GREAT OUTDOORS

Are you both adventurers? If you are the couple who enjoys the outdoors and it has become your haven, then there is no better place to seal the deal than at the place that you love the most. And indeed, Mother Nature simply has the best to offer when it comes to romance.

pxlpusher, Flickr

ADRENALINE RUSH

If none of the regular choices give you the rush, then perhaps proposing while doing some extreme sport might do the trick. If you both love the thrill of adrenaline-pumping-through-your-veins adventures, you can try asking while out on one of those trips. Truly, nothing would make it more memorable than having to put on a ring from the sky, or on a scuba gloved finger.

Pixabay, pexels.com

Oliver Sjöström, pexels.com

But whichever you decide, proposing for marriage is not about where or how you do it. The proposal may be the grandest of all proposals, or it may be as simple as asking her from across your dinner table.

Created by Freepik

What she will be looking for is the truth and sincerity in your eyes as you ask her to be a part of your life…forever.

Ryan Jacobson, Unsplash

 Guest Blogger Bio

Sarah Jacobs is an experienced writer who loves creating articles that can benefit others. She has worked as a freelance writer in the past, making informative articles and fascinating stories. She has extensive knowledge in a variety of fields such as technology, business, finance, marketing, personal development, and more.

Links

Website:  https://giftninjas.co/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/giftninjas.co/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/GiftNinjas

 

Thanks again! We hope to see you back on ILRB sometime. 

As always, happy reading, everyone! 😉 Have a great weekend!

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Filed under Blogging, Contemporary, Dating Tips, Engagement, Event, Hope, Love, Message, Readers, Relationships, Romance, romantic ideas, Traditions, Wedding

Book Feature: Loving Justice by author Sable Hunter

I am pleased to announce a great book by Sable Hunter, an author I met during my journey! She’s stopping by to tell us about her steamy contemporary western romance, Loving Justice, which released back in 2015!

Woo hoo! It’s always fun to discover romance authors and books. 😀

Sable is allowing us a look at a hot western romance, Loving Justice, today.

Great cover!

This is the blurb for Loving Justice, book two of El Camino Real Series:

Justice King and Charlee Parker are best friends…or they were until the day her feelings changed and she fell madly, hopelessly in love with him.
He didn’t feel the same way. And who could blame him? Justice King was perfect.
He could have any woman he wanted.
And she was just Charlee – a flat-chested tomboy with her heart in her eyes.
But some things are just meant to be.
Some are luckier than most. Soulmates, friends as well as lovers.
When fate begins to weave a thread of hope to bring them together, they go from an ill-fated night of passion to a misunderstanding which separates them for eight long years.
But destiny will not be denied – a calamity at El Camino brings Charlee home and from the moment he sees her, Justice knows he’ll never let her go again.
But Charlee has a secret…a secret she’s afraid to tell Justice. She’s been keeping something from him, something he might not be able to forgive.

**CONTENT WARNING: This book contains adult situations and language and is not intended for an audience under the age of 18**

Release Date: January 21, 2015

Genre: Steamy contemporary romance, western romance

And here is an excerpt to tease you with...

“I can’t believe you drank too much. This isn’t like you.” When he grunted and grumbled under his breath, she retorted, “Yea, I’m fussing a little. Sue me.”

“Just help me upstairs, boss.” His voice held that teasing note she’d heard so often years ago.

“Don’t you want me to fix you something to eat first?”

A groan was her answer to that question. “We’re alone,” he announced. The house was deserted. His parents and the twins, Trace and Trevor, were in Austin with Abby. All the rest of the boys were at school. Apparently, Abby had insisted her injury be downplayed to such an extent that most of the family was going about their normal routine.

“Don’t worry, your virtue is safe with me.” She did some teasing of her own. The second and fifth stair creaked like normal. Charlee didn’t need to be told where Justice’s room was located. She’d snuck up these stairs or shimmed up the drain pipe to his window more times than she could count while growing up. “Let’s get you into bed,” she winced, he was getting heavier by the second.

“Sounds good to me,” Justice murmured. “I’m beat.”

“You’ll feel better soon,” she assured him, checking the thermostat, making sure his room was warm enough for him. He obediently stood next to the big four poster bed, looking to her like a cross between a sexy teddy bear and an Old West desperado. Justice always reminded her of Chris Pine in a cowboy hat.

“You smell good, like a woman.”

Charlee had to laugh. “You are drunk.” At his snort, she added, “At least something about me is womanly.” It sure wasn’t her shape. Charlee’s unfortunate chest was as flat as a board.

“There’s not a damn thing wrong with you.” His voice was low and raspy.

Charlee shivered. “Never mind. Let me get the covers turned back and I’ll help you get your boots off.” This wasn’t the first time she’d helped him to bed. Of course, the other times he’d been hurting with one of those damn headaches he was plagued with.

“I think I need help with the rest of my clothes.”

His whisper sounded a little suggestive and Charlee blushed from her nose to her toes. “I think you need a cold shower.” She made light of his comment. Charlee had seen Justice flirt many times, but she’d never been the recipient. She’d always been relegated to the role of best buddy.

“Will you take one with me?”

“A shower?” She choked back a laugh. Was he tormenting her on purpose? “Not a good idea.” Charlee fluffed the pillows and turned on the bedside lamp, anything to keep her eyes off the handsome hunk who was unbuttoning his shirt and eyeing her like she was a tasty treat. How many times had she dreamed of this moment? The only problem was – the Jose Cuervo was talking, not Justice.

“Come here. I need to hold you.”

The teasing tone had left his voice completely. This sexy Justice was almost more than she could handle. “Hush. Let me help you. You’re making a mess.” She stepped close to him, her whole body quivering at the sight of his gorgeous chest, lightly furred, muscles rippling as he struggled with the shirt which was behind him, still fastened at the cuffs.

While she was so near and he was otherwise occupied, Charlee dared to do something she’d only dreamed about. She placed a small quick kiss over his heart and felt hers jump in her chest.

“That’s good. Now kiss me up here.”

Caught. She lifted her eyes and he was staring at her with unmistakable heat. “Sorry.”

“God, don’t be. I need you.” He tossed the shirt across the room and began tugging at his pants. “Damned buttons.”

“Justice, you don’t want me.” The words slipped from her lips unbidden even as her hands joined his, tugging to get his belt out of the loops.

“Yes, I do. I want you. I need you.” He bent his head and she felt his lips on her neck. “Feel.”

He took her hand and moved it below his waist – and he was right. She could feel him big and hard. For her? Not possible. Unable to rest, she shyly cupped him, marveling at the way he throbbed in her hand. “I’m not your type, you said so. Remember?” Each word tore a little bit of her pride away.

“You’re my friend. A guy isn’t supposed to lust after his friend. But I can’t help it.” His words were still a bit slurred, punctuated by kisses as he licked a path from her cheek to her collarbone. “Don’t think I’ve missed those hot little nipples pressing against your shirt, or that wild flush on your cheeks when we sit close. You want me, Parker.”

“We don’t always get what we want, Justice.” Charlee tried to muster up some fight, some strength to push away his hands. But she couldn’t. She had wanted him forever. By age fifteen, she’d been aware of Justice as a man and by the time she was eighteen, she’d burned for him.

“I do, I’m not afraid to reach out and take what I want when I see it.”

God, he was potent. “All I’ve ever wanted was for you to be happy,” she offered as she tilted her head to give him access. Frissons of excitement covered her skin.

“I want your soft touches, like how you used to caress my forehead when I was sick. Now, I want you to whimper for the pleasure I can give you.”

Right on cue, she moaned for him as he skated his hands up under her shirt. “Justice,” she gasped his name in prayer.

“Your skin is like toffee-colored silk and your hair drives me mad.” He ran his fingers through the long, thick chocolate colored waterfall.

“It does?” Charlee was losing her mind. This was surreal. His hands were now working on her clothes, soon she would be naked in his arms.

“Yea, I love the taste of you. Sugar cookies. You’re sweet on my tongue.” Justice kissed her neck again, this time sucking a bit of soft flesh between his teeth. God, he was so excited, he was seeing stars. “Are you gonna let me love you?”

Did she have a choice? Her mind might be wary but her body was melting at his touch.

Justice slipped an arm around Charlee and lifted her to him, his other hand making quick work of the remainder of their clothes. Wrapping Charlee’s hair around his fist, he pulled her head back and claimed her lips with his own.

Their first kiss.

Purchase Links:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/mvvyaX

Woo! ♥♥♥ Love how sexy this is. (Fans herself.) Seems like a sizzling read!

So, what are readers saying about this novel?

Great read! A second chance at love with your best friend. Doesn’t get much better than that.
Charlee Parker comes from a life that taught her to be strong the hard way, but when things got too much she ran. She left it all behind, especially the love of her life, Justice King.
Justice lost a part of himself when Charlee left town, and worst of all, he didn’t know why she left. But when she returns and he finds out the reason she left, he doubles his efforts to win her back for good…
” – Chrys Anthi, Amazon

“Books by Sable are always amazing! loved this story of Justice and Charlie! They were meant to be together.
There hasn’t been a Sable Hunter book I haven’t liked. You fall in love with the characters.
And her knowledge of the histories of the places they live in is so cool. I love that little history lesson in each of her books.
” – TammyS329, Amazon

“So beautifully written. Words cannot begin to express how much I loved this book. Sable has a way with words like no other. I fell in love with the characters in this book right away. I’m hoping I will get all the King brothers stories. This book is for anyone who loves true romance. ” – Amanda Smith, Amazon

Thank you for telling us about your book, Sable! I know I can’t wait to read this contemporary western romance!

Readers, don’t forget to pick up a copy of this awesome book! 🙂 Or you can add it to Goodreads!

Author Bio

Sable Hunter is a New York Times, USA Today bestselling author of nearly 60 books in 9 series. She writes sexy contemporary stories full of emotion and suspense. Her focus is mainly cowboy and novels set in Louisiana with a hint of the supernatural. Sable writes what she likes to read and enjoys putting her fantasies on paper. Her books are emotional tales in which the heroine is faced with challenges. Her aim is to write a story that will make you laugh, cry and swoon. If she can wring those emotions from a reader, she has done her job. Sable resides in Austin, Texas with her two dogs. Passionate about all animals, she has been known to charm creatures from a one ton bull to a family of raccoons. For fun, Sable haunts cemeteries and battlefields armed with night-vision cameras and digital recorders hunting proof that love survives beyond the grave. Welcome to her world of magic, alpha heroes, sexy cowboys and hot, steamy, to-die-for sex. Step into the shoes of her heroines and escape to places where right prevails, love conquers all and holding out for a hero is not an impossible dream.
Author Links:
Website:  http://www.sablehunter.com/  
Newsletter:  http://eepurl.com/qRvyn
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/authorsablehunter/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/huntersable
Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Sable-Hunter/e/B007B3KS4M/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4419823.Sable_Hunter
BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/sable-hunter

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sable_hunter/

 

Thanks again, Sable ! We hope to see you back on ILRB sometime. 

Happy reading, everyone!🙂

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Filed under Authors, Book News, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Readers, Romance, steamy, western, Writing

New Release Feature: The Impaler’s Wife by author Autumn Bardot

•..•The Impaler’s Wife by Autumn Bardot•..•

Marriage to a man tortured by his past comes with a price…

I am pleased to announce a great book release by Autumn, a talented author I met during my journey! Her new historical fiction novel with a romance angle, The Impaler’s Wife, officially released last week!

Yay! That’s awesome! :) Congrats on your new release!

When a new book comes out, it’s always an exciting time for an author!

Autumn is giving us a look at her gothic romance, The Impaler’s Wife, today.

What an intriguing cover!

This is the blurb for The Impaler’s Wife:

A young woman is swept into a life of intrigue, revenge, passion, and betrayal when she falls for the world’s most notorious prince.

The year is 1464 and young King Matthias controls Hungary, his family, and the fate of the world’s most notorious political prisoner, Prince Vlad Dracula.

Ilona Szilágy, the king’s cousin, is young and ambitious. Dracula is determined to marry into the Hunyadi family. It is love at first sight, but the king has other plans. The Impaler Prince, however, never takes no for an answer.

This begins Ilona’s journey into the treacherous world of court intrigues, family betrayals, and her husband’s dark desires. Eager to become Vlad’s trusted confidante, Ilona soon discovers that marriage to a man tortured by his past comes with a price.

Woven throughout is a peek into the life and times of one of the world’s most enigmatic and maligned rulers…the man before the legend.

With Bardot’s decadent period detail and a cast of gritty, evocative characters, The Impaler’s Wife offers a fierce yet sensuous glimpse into the violent 15th century.

Here is an excerpt to entice you with!

Prince Vlad rests his hand on the small of my back. “Come, Lady Ilona, look at the faces of anarchy and villainy, and see how much they resemble your friends and family.”

“I will not.” I back away from the entrance where moans rise from the bowels of the labyrinth like a demon’s song.

“The choice is yours, of course.” His tone is low and gentle, but in the lamplight his stare is wolf-like.

I shift from foot to foot, look away, only to glance back. Does he hear my heart knocking against my breast? Can he smell my fear as it beads wet on my neck? Do I want to rise to this challenge? Or am I a fool for allowing him to bait me?

My fingers tighten around the lamp’s clay handle. “I will humor you, my lord, but only because Father taught me courage and graciousness.”

“Mihály taught you well.” He holds out his hand. “My lady.”

The lamp divides the darkness like a saber, each foot forward lighting our descent into hell. Ghostly groans from below seep through the rock. I sink into Vlad’s fur-lined coat as though their suffering will soak into my soul.

Vlad pauses before descending the narrow rock steps leading into the labyrinth’s deepest level. “Are you certain?” His eyes glint with challenge. “A weak constitution is nothing to be ashamed of.”

I lift my chin and glare with pretended insult. “I am the daughter of Michael Szilágyi and Margit Báthory. Iron courage flows in my blood.” I push back my cuff and show him the blue-forked veins in my wrist. “I am as brave as Hadak Ura, our ancient pagan warlord.”

“I believe you, my lady. I will not doubt again.”

The clanking chains and eerie moans get louder with each step down, the noises merging into a demonic choir like that of Ördög’s requiem to the Underworld. My legs shake, my neck wet with icy prickles, and my skin tightens around my chest.

I lift the lamp into hell.

The circle of light shines upon a pockmarked man stretching his arm between the bars, his fingers curled like claws. “Bless me, good sister.”

In the cell next to him, a naked wretch spits onto the ground. “Menj a fenébe!”

“I am innocent!” A third prisoner grabs the bars and presses his wild-bearded face against the iron. “Tell His Highness there is a Turkish spy in his court. He is in danger! You must warn him!”

My head swivels toward Prince Vlad.

“There are always spies,” Vlad whispers.

I walk with measured pace and let the lantern reveal each doomed prisoner. Most stare, empty-eyed; the whips, chains, skin shredders, bone crushers, and strappado take away all hope and spirit. Others shout obscenities. One man kneels, hands in prayer, and mutters the Hail Mary.

The weight of their misery crashes down, squeezes my heart, and crushes my breath. This place must be worse than hell’s torments because these wretches yet live, have all their faculties! No one deserves this! It is inhumane! Sadistic and depraved!

My breath comes in shreds and clumps. I cover my nose with Prince Vlad’s cape, the stench of rotting flesh enfolding me in its putrid embrace. My pace quickens. It is time to end this test of my courage.

“You!” A milky-eyed wretch points to Prince Vlad and begins chanting in a foreign tongue.

Prince Vlad guides me away from the cells. “You have thrice over proven your courage tonight.”

“What language was that man speaking?”

“He recites from the Corpus Hermeticum.” Dracula takes the lantern and illuminates the stairwell. “It’s a pagan book of alchemy, astronomy, and metaphysics.”

“It sounded like he cursed us.”

“Pay no attention to a madman’s rants. That particular book is nothing but Egyptian and Greek nonsense.”

I tread upwards, evil’s chill clinging to my limbs. At the top, I try to purge the dungeon’s misery, malice, and madness with a long exhalation. Yet the horror sticks like nettles in my soul.

“This way.” I move past the dark tunnel and enter the lighted one, relieved to put space and distance between the prisoners and me.

The tunnel ends at a large grotto where Prince Vlad pauses to light the ring of torches affixed to the walls. I wait on a stone bench near the baptismal fount, sighing with relief as the golden glow of the church-like arches infuse peace into my troubled soul.

Prince Vlad sits beside me. “We go from hell to heaven.”

I tuck a stray lock behind my ear. “This was Father’s favorite grotto. God’s Buried Cathedral, he called it. His second favorite has a Titan-sized head emerging from the ground—like a god got stuck in molten rock. I was only in that grotto once. It reminded me of an insect trapped in tree sap that ages to amber—the insect forever entombed—never aging, almost alive in its resin grave.”

“Do you find that horrific or beautiful?” His eyes search mine.

“Both, I suppose.” My shoulders move into my sigh. “Caves are dreary places.”

“I rather enjoy them. Tunnels have saved my life several times.” Dracula stands. “I think we are both ready for fresh air.” He offers his hand, its warmth a familiar comfort.

Together we walk through the tunnel lit by small lanterns that flicker like fireflies all the way to the exit.

Prince Vlad gives the stubborn iron-crossed door a hard yank and it groans open. Outside, a sapphire dawn drapes over Buda.

“On no.” My hands fly to my face. “It’s so late it’s early.” Were we in the tunnels that long? If my aunts discover I never returned to my room…I spin about, my voice edged with panic. “I have to go back. Now.”

Vlad’s brows crease with concern. He tugs a handkerchief from his robe and touches it to my lips as though dabbing at a smudge. “There’s something I must do first.” He lays the linen over my lips and sets his mouth on mine.

Even through the thin fabric, his lips sear my own. I part my lips, feel the linen moisten with the breath of our lust. I collapse into him, my body sizzling with desire. I am about to rip away the fabric and taste his lips when he breaks the kiss.

Vlad Dracula steps back, the handkerchief between thumb and forefinger. “If you marry Luigi della Scala, you will still be chaste.” He drags the handkerchief across his mouth. “I will always have this.”

Chaste? Prince Vlad just violated my heart and corrupted my flesh!

Back in my chambers, I touch my lips that still burn with the memory of our kiss—my first kiss—and groan. Vlad Dracula used my virtue, conceit, and fears to study the labyrinth’s secrets. He took advantage of my desire for romantic adventure to learn the escape route.

Purchase Links:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/3ygVlv

Publisher: Flores Publishing

Nice! Great tension. Gotta love this sneak peek. ♥♥♥

Let’s check out an intriguing book trailer!

Awesome!

Thank you for telling us about your new book! It sounds fabulous! 🙂

Readers, don’t forget to pick up a copy of this riveting read! Or add it to your Goodreads bookshelf!

Author Bio

Autumn Bardot writes erotica and historical fiction about sassy women and daring passions.

Her erotica includes Legends of Lust (Cleis Press), and Confessions of a Sheba Queen (Cleis, Jan 2020).  Autumn has a BA in English literature and a MaEd in curriculum and instruction. She’s been teaching writing and literary analysis for fourteen years. Autumn lives in Southern California with her hubby, rescue pooch, and ever-increasing family.  Her favorite things include salty French fries, coffee, swimming, and a great book.

Author Links

Website:  http://www.autumnbardot.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/AutumnBardotAuthor

Club Autumn

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/AutumnBardot

Amazon author page:  https://www.amazon.com/Autumn-Bardot/e/B07DMC7ZB6/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17725628.Autumn_Bardot

Newsletter Sign-up here (right side of page)

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/autumnbardot/

 

Thanks again, Autumn! We hope to see you back on ILRB sometime. 

Happy reading, everyone!🙂

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Filed under Authors, Book News, Book Release, Books, Fiction, Gothic, Historical, Historical Romance, Readers, Romance, Writing

Book Review: The Homecoming (Bayou Shifters Book 1) by Tammy Tate

This week’s I Love Romance Blog review selection is The Homecoming by Tammy Tate. Once I started this one, I just kept reading – great beginning to the series!

The book jumps right into the story and I definitely appreciate that. Sometimes you just want the meat and potatoes. Sydney is goin’ on a trip. More specifically, she’s going to stay with her aunt and her pack of wolf shifters at their home on the outskirts of New Orleans. After Sydney’s mother died, her human father knew that he couldn’t help her transition, so she reluctantly agrees to go.

Her dreams have been wreaking havoc, though. It’s the same dream over and over and it always leaves her wanting.

Kyle and his best friend Beau are living the life – working, fishing, and running. But, one of them isn’t sleeping that well either.

In a story full of action, adventure, love, romance, sex, shifters, and yes, vampires – you will definitely be hooked, too.

For all this and so much more that you’ll have to discover when you read it – I give The Homecoming By Tammy Tate 5 HEARTS!

Book Info:

Sydney is half human, half wolf and has fallen in love with Kyle, a full-fledged shifter who for the last six months has been appearing in her dreams. During the next full moon, she will make her first shift from human to wolf. The transformation won’t be easy. It could leave her disfigured. Or, worse. Dead.

Kyle is in Bayou Fontaine. For the sake of the pack, the council has already chosen him a mate. Sydney and Kyle face incredible odds to be together and soon become pawns in a deadly game of survival.

The clock is ticking…

Universal Reader link: https://books2read.com/u/3LGNXM

Here are some teasers!

And the book trailer…

AUTHOR: Tammy Tate

TITLE: The Homecoming (book one of the Bayou Shifters Series)

GENRE: Paranormal Romance – Werewolves, Shifters and Vampires

RELEASE DATE: January 14, 2017

PUBLISHER: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ISBN/ASIN: B01N4OJD6J

OUR RATING: ♥♥♥♥♥

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Ethan

 

Get your copy for only 99 cents here.

Up next week: Choosing the Cowboy by Liz Isaacson

Thanks for reading our weekly book review on ILRB!

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Filed under Blogging, book reviews, Books, Event, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, rating, Readers, Reviews, Romance, score, Writing

National Poetry Month Feature: “Miles of Our Memories” – a poem

Hi, readers! April is here again! 🙂

To celebrate National Poetry Month, I decided to write a romantic poem, inspired by my relationship with my fiancé. Here it is:

 

Miles of Our Memories

A special anniversary approaches…

How many times have we crossed these miles?

More than I can count.

Sapan Patel, Unsplash

Distance separates us again this year,

but I know it will turn out all right.

Still…

I miss your arms wrapped around me,

your special scent in my nose.

Created by Freepik

I miss our unique closeness,

the quiet talks in the night as we lay there,

absorbing breaths and heartbeats.

Becca Tapert, Unsplash.

I miss gazing at you across the table of a romantic meal,

even laughing as we dodged the puddles of a parking lot.

GEORGE DESIPRIS, pexels.com

I miss the experiences we shared for years.

Surely we can get some of that back?

It has been too long, my love, since we…

Sat in a dark theater, hands entwined,

Malmanxd, Unsplash

Strolled through a mall, pointing out the wares,

Tossed a ball down a lane, hoping to miss the gutters,

Joseph Costa, Unsplash

Had a picnic, chatting about all those simple things in life,

Went on a walk, hand in hand.

Clem Onojeghuo, Unsplash

It has been far too long since our hearts were so connected, and we surrendered to the glee inside us.

Created by Teksomolika – Freepik.com

For tonight, let’s cast aside our obligations.

Say you’ll travel with me to the stars and beyond,

Juskteez Vu, Unsplash

where time doesn’t interfere with its incessant, haunting chime,

when we can be us again.

Join me and we’ll find our bliss,

a reprieve from the madness.

I know one day these chains of clock and mile won’t bind us,

and we can be free.

As one.

I live for the moment when I am yours,

tied with paper and mirrored hands.

Ivan Cabañas, Unsplash

We’ll confront this world together,

and then blend into a perfect union of well-matched souls.

I love you and miss you…

Yet I’d wait forever if the fates tried to keep us apart.

Nothing can break us, I swear.

We are stronger than the mere miles that threaten to split this bond.

Sylwia Bartyzel, Unsplash

And I am always,

always yours.

NeONBRAND, Unsplash

© 2019, Marie Lavender.

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Filed under Blogging, Event, Hope, Love, love poem, Marie Lavender, Message, poem, poems, Poetry, Readers, reflections, Relationships, Romance, Writing

Book Feature: Texas Maverick by authors Sable Hunter & Ryan O’Leary

I am pleased to announce a great book by Sable Hunter and Ryan O’Leary, two authors I met during my journey! They’re stopping by to tell us about their steamy western military romance, Texas Maverick, which released back in 2016!

Woo hoo! It’s always fun to discover romance authors and books. 😀

Sable and Ryan are allowing us a look at a sexy military romance, Texas Maverick, today.

Nice cover!

This is the blurb for Texas Maverick:

Maverick Cross is a Texas hero, not the flashy kind, he’s a war veteran who served his country overseas and now serves it at home as an Austin firefighter. To look at him – and women love to look – he’s a ripped athlete who takes care of himself and has it all together.
Only his next door neighbor knows the truth; Maverick suffers from PTSD.
Everly Winterfell is almost invisible, blending into the crowd is fine by her. She’s a hero too, not the kind who wears a cape, but the kind who isn’t afraid to dig for the truth and expose it for all to see. Everly’s alter ego is Eve Winters, an award winning journalist who doesn’t seek the limelight, she’s content with writing stories that change people’s lives without drawing any attention to herself.
Nothing much escapes Everly, she has a talent for seeing beneath the surface, reading people for who they really are. From her vantage point in Apartment #701, she has learned that the occupant in #702 is lonely. He has a habit of pushing people away before they can get too close, especially women. Maverick can offer a woman great sex, Everly can vouch for that fact. The walls are thin between #701 and #702 and many nights she has lain there wishing she was on the receiving end of his attention. He’s intrigued by his odd little neighbor, who seems to want to be his wingman and he has no idea that her ulterior motive is to be his friend. After some negotiations, they strike a deal – she’ll find him women who know the score, who won’t expect more than he can give, and in return he’ll see if he can advise her on how to attract a man for herself. To facilitate their odd arrangement, they install a chalkboard on the narrow wall separating their front doors, leaving messages about their shared adventures.
The more time they spend together, the less important finding dates for the other becomes. Everly and Maverick discover they share a chemistry that’s off the charts, they can’t keep their hands off one another. There’s only one problem – Maverick has no idea Everly is his secret obsession, Eve Winters. Sometimes what we need is right in front of our face. Sometimes what we’re looking for is right next door…

**CONTENT WARNING: This book contains adult language and sexual situations. It is intended for ages 18+ ONLY**

Release Date: July 15, 2016

Genre: Steamy contemporary romance, western romance, military romance

And here is an excerpt to tease you with...

“Maverick, it’s me. Everly.”

He opened his eyes, expecting to see flashes of gunfire and explosions from IED’s. Instead, he looked into delicate features, eyes warm with concern. “Everly?”

“You were dreaming,” she whispered.

Fuck, he was dreaming now. “What are you doing here?”

She kept her hand on Maverick, seeking to soothe him. “I heard you through the wall.” Rising, she stood next to the bed. “Do you want some water before I go?”

“Did I hurt you?” He grabbed her hand, pulling her back down to sit on the bed.

She twined her fingers with his. “No, of course not.”

“Don’t go.” His hand came up to weave itself in her hair. “Where’s the whale spout, Tink?”

“What are you doing?” she whispered as his other hand skimmed up under her shirt, caressing the soft skin of her back.

“I need you,” he pulled her head down until their lips met.

Now Everly thought she was the one who must be dreaming. Could this be real? His mouth moved on hers, a gentle graze that made it hard to breathe. She wanted to kiss him back so badly she could die.

“Open.”

His demand made every nerve ending in her body spark to life. There was no way on God’s green earth she could resist this man, she wanted him too much. Tentatively, she responded to his strength, his passion. Parting her lips, she touched the tip of her tongue to his and he groaned, pulling her to the bed beside him. Everly’s blood raced through her veins. She craved him – she craved his touch and she craved to touch him. Clutching his shoulders, she began to kiss him back with desperate intensity.

Her surrender seemed to free something within him. Maverick began to devour her lips and she trembled as his big hands roamed all over her body. Never had she been kissed this way. His mouth on hers was the single most wonderful thing that had ever happened to her.

A haze of desire clouded Maverick’s brain. Her body was soft and warm as his mouth blazed a trail across her face and down her throat. When his lips brushed the pulse point that betrayed her excitement, he knew he wanted more.

(this section was edited out for this post because it was too hot for ILRB…LOL!)

Maverick pulled her into his embrace, the act of release seeming to give him peace. Everly held him close, marveling at what had transpired. A small smile played on her lips. Tingles of elation mixed with shivers of remorse. He’d been in the throes of a nightmare when she’d come to his bed, offering him comfort. Oh, he’d taken it all right. The only problem was that Everly wasn’t sure this was something he’d have done in any other circumstance.

Easing out from under him, she made a grab for her shirt, pulling it over her head. When he didn’t move, she felt around in the bed for her panties, but found nothing. “Dang it,” she whispered, then froze when he moved again, his hand running over the covers. Was he looking for her?

No matter, he wouldn’t find her.

Coward that she was, Everly Winterfell backed out of Maverick’s room and retreated to the safety of her own apartment.

The cold light of day would tell the tale. If what they’d done together meant something to him, he’d let her know.

And if it didn’t….

Well, she’d deal with that when the time came.

Purchase Links:

Universal Reader link:  https://books2read.com/u/bPZ7EA

OMG! ♥♥♥ Love how steamy this is. (Fans herself.) Seems like quite a read!

So, what are readers saying about this novel?

These two have an interesting relationship; funny, confusing, no matter what they have each other’s backs, misunderstandings, and lots of making up. It is a very good story and one I would recommend reading.” – Linda Knott, Amazon

While I’ve never been to Austin, I feel like I know the city from reading this latest release in the Texas Heroes series.
Everly is the kind of person we all should want to be – loving, kind, outgoing, artistic, talented, with a heart of pure gold. She and Maverick are next door neighbors but don’t really know each other until she offers to help him with his lady problems. He can’t seem to keep a girl more than one night and she’s sure she can help him with that. But along the way, they develop a deeply honest friendship. Of course there are bumps and bruises along the way, but in true Sable Hunter/Ryan O’Leary fashion, they eventually reach their HEA.
If you’ve never read Sable Hunter, this is an excellent place to start. In my opinion, she never disappoints the reader and always leaves you wanting more.
” – Shirley, Amazon

“Another home run! Sable Hunter and her co-writer Ryan O’Leary are at the top of my auto buy list. With every book, they continue to set the bar higher and higher. This book is well written with a fully developed plot and intriguing characters. In many of Sable’s books the hero and his love ignite sparks from the get go. This book deviates from that a bit in that Maverick and Everly start out as friends and develop deeper feelings as their relationship progresses. Sometimes what you have always wanted and needed is right in front of your face. The heat factor is high as usual, and as an added bonus the authors include very detailed descriptions of the Austin area. I loved this book!!!” – Mamiecj, Amazon

Thank you for telling us about your book, Sable and Ryan! I know I can’t wait to read this sizzling western military romance!

Readers, don’t forget to pick up a copy of this awesome book! 🙂 Or you can add it to Goodreads!

Author Bio

Sable Hunter is a New York Times, USA Today bestselling author of nearly 60 books in 9 series. She writes sexy contemporary stories full of emotion and suspense. Her focus is mainly cowboy and novels set in Louisiana with a hint of the supernatural. Sable writes what she likes to read and enjoys putting her fantasies on paper. Her books are emotional tales in which the heroine is faced with challenges. Her aim is to write a story that will make you laugh, cry and swoon. If she can wring those emotions from a reader, she has done her job. Sable resides in Austin, Texas with her two dogs. Passionate about all animals, she has been known to charm creatures from a one ton bull to a family of raccoons. For fun, Sable haunts cemeteries and battlefields armed with night-vision cameras and digital recorders hunting proof that love survives beyond the grave. Welcome to her world of magic, alpha heroes, sexy cowboys and hot, steamy, to-die-for sex. Step into the shoes of her heroines and escape to places where right prevails, love conquers all and holding out for a hero is not an impossible dream.
Author Links:
Website:  http://www.sablehunter.com/  
Newsletter:  http://eepurl.com/qRvyn
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/authorsablehunter/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/huntersable
Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Sable-Hunter/e/B007B3KS4M/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4419823.Sable_Hunter
BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/sable-hunter

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sable_hunter/

 

Author Bio

Rarely will you find Ryan O’Leary in a state of rest; if he’s not on the ice or kicking around a soccer ball, he’s plotting his next story or out on the town with friends. His fun and flirty nature makes it possible for him to write the kind of romance that makes the reader both smile and tingle.

Author Links

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/WriterRyanOLeary/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/team_oleary

Amazon author page:  https://www.amazon.com/Ryan-OLeary/e/B00BEJ2NUQ/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6074123.Ryan_O_Leary

 

Thanks again, Sable and Ryan! We hope to see you back on ILRB sometime. 

Happy reading, everyone!🙂

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Filed under Authors, Book News, Books, Contemporary, Erotica, Event, Fiction, Military Romance, Readers, Romance, steamy, western, Writing